This moment.

This Moment

By David Milligan-Croft.

When I watched my mother dying,

Over a period of months, then weeks, then days,

Her eyes closed, never to reopen.

Her breath laboured,

Her skeletal frame sinking further into the mattress,

The morphine drip, drip, dripping into her veins,

I wondered whether she might be better off dead.

Not out of malice, of course, but out of love.

I wanted to see an end to her suffering.

This was not life – it was living death.

Before she entered this comatose state,

She spoke of sitting in her garden

Amidst the spring narcissus,

Surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

What was the point of thoughts of the future,

When there is only this moment?

This precise moment, where you are a prisoner

In your own decrepit body and locked-in mind.

But the nurse told me that you could hear us.

And I thought that, despite your pain –

Your second-by-second suffering –

It must be of some respite to hear the voices

Of your children close by. Sometimes talking to you,

Sometimes to each other – reminiscing.

Perhaps making an inappropriate joke,

Despite your circumstances.

The dab of a coffee-soaked sponge

To bring succour to your parched lips.

(Or Tia Maria, when the nurse pretended not to look.)

Then your grandchildren,

Pottering about your granny flat,

Wondering why this contraption of a bed was in the living room.

Bringing you gifts from the kitchen – a saucepan, a spatula,

Touching your paper-thin skin, telling you to ‘wake up, grandma!’

But you were awake.

That must have made you smile in your mind.

There is only ever this moment.

No future, no past.

Just a collection of moments to be cherished.

Or not.

So, my mind began to change.

I did not think you’d be better off dead.

I thought you were exactly where you should be –

Surrounded by your family,

Loving you,

In this moment.

For my mother,

Christine Milligan,

14th August 1943 – 2nd March 2021.


Filed under Art, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, health, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, nhs, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

9 responses to “This moment.

  1. My condolences on your mother’s passing. There is no easy way to see a parent suffer and fade away. You and your family gave her the best possible ending with your presence.

  2. Heartfelt sympathy, Dave.
    It’s so hard to see one’s precious mother dying before ones very eyes but I think you’ve captured so much of the emotion in this loving piece.

    • Thank you Jean. I have seen people die before, but it’s very different when it’s your mother. I am a part of her. I think it’s like part of yourself dying. I dunno. Maybe.

      • You remind me of a time I asked my mother if something or other was normal when her mother died and she looked at me and said: My mother never died before.
        Her words came flooding back to me when she died herself in 2009 and it was only then I fully got what she meant.
        I think a lot has to do with the fact that most mothers are the people who can read us better than anyone because we have been so much part of them from before the beginning.
        The good thing is that their presence never dies, as in things like their sayings, loves, disaprovals, quirks, unique ways and, if we are lucky, sense of intense caring and understanding. 💚

      • Thank you for those lovely words Jean. They really help. Like your mum said, my mum never died before, so it’s very difficult to come to terms with the enormity of what that means. Like you say, my life began inside her before I came into this world. And I guess that means I’ll always be a part of her and vice versa. (I appreciate that not everyone will feel this way about their mother. Or father, which I know is very different.)

      • You’re more than welcome. However grown up we are, we’re still our parent’s kids.

  3. I’m sorry to hear this news. Your poem is moving.

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